The urinary bladder is a musculomembranous sac which acts as a reservoir for urine; and its size, position, and relations vary according to the amount of fluid it contains. It receives urine from the kidneys through the ureters that is dispensed from the bladder through the urethra.
When the bladder is moderately full it contains about 0.5 litre and assumes an oval form; the long diameter of the oval measures about 12 cm and is directed upwards and forwards. The bladder capacity decreases with old age.
Nerves in the bladder tell you when it is time to urinate (empty your bladder). As the bladder first fills with urine, you may feel an urge to urinate. The urge to urinate becomes stronger as the bladder continues to fill and reaches its limit. At that point, nerves from the bladder send a message to the brain that the bladder is full, and your urge to empty your bladder intensifies.
Below are some common conditions, diagnostics and treatments related to the urinary bladder. Some of topics below are discussed elsewhere, click on the link to go to that section.
Interstitial cystitis (IC), one of the chronic pelvic pain disorders, is a condition resulting in recurring discomfort or pain in the bladder and the surrounding pelvic region.
In interstitial cystitis, the bladder wall may be irritated and become scarred or stiff. Some people with IC find that their bladders cannot hold much urine, which increases the frequency of urination. Frequency, however, is not always specifically related to bladder size; many people with severe frequency have normal bladder capacity. People with severe cases of IC may urinate as many as 40 to 50 times a day.
Also, people with IC often experience pain during sexual intercourse. IC is far more common in women than in men.
The definite cause of IC is not known; one theory being studied is that IC is an autoimmune response following a bladder infection.
Diagnostic tests that help identify other conditions include urinalysis, urine culture, cystoscopy, biopsy of the bladder wall, distention of the bladder under anaesthesia, urine cytology, and, in men, laboratory examination of prostate secretions.
Because the causes of interstitial cystitis are unknown, current treatments are aimed at relieving symptoms. Most people are helped for variable periods by one or a combination of treatments. As researchers learn more about Interstitial cystitis, the list of potential treatments will change, so patients should discuss their options with a doctor.
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